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Virginia lawmakers pass legislation to make Juneteenth a state holiday

Juneteenth has officially become a state holiday after lawmakers unanimously approved legislation during the Virginia General Assembly special session.

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By Sam Fowler

Juneteenth has officially become a state holiday after lawmakers unanimously approved legislation during the Virginia General Assembly special session.

Juneteenth marks the day news of the Emancipation Proclamation reached Texas, which was the last state to abolish slavery. The companion bills were introduced by Sen. Mamie Locke, D-Hampton, and Del. Lamont Bagby, D-Richmond. Gov. Ralph Northam signed the legislation on Oct. 13.

“Juneteenth is the oldest celebration of the end of slavery in the United States,” Northam said during a press conference held that day. “It’s time we elevate this, not just a celebration by and for some Virginia, but one acknowledged and celebrated by all of us.”

Del. Joshua Cole, D-Fredericksburg, introduced a bill in the legislative session earlier this year to recognize Juneteenth, but the proposal didn’t advance.

Northam proposed making Juneteenth a state holiday in June during a press conference that included musician and Virginia-native Pharrell Williams. Northam signed an executive order that gave executive branch employees and state colleges the day off. Some Virginia localities, such as Richmond and several places in Hampton Roads, also observed the holiday this year.

“I think it is overdue that the Commonwealth formally honor and celebrate the emancipation and end of slavery,” Del. Mark Cole, R-Fredericksburg, a co-patron of the bill, said in an email. “It was a step towards fulfilling the promise of equality contained in our founding documents.”

The Elegba Folklore Society, a Richmond-based organization focused on promoting African culture, history and arts, is one of the groups that has been celebrating the holiday for decades. The celebration usually is a three-day weekend event that looks at the history of Juneteenth. A torch-lit walk down the Trail of Enslaved Africans in Richmond is also held, said Janine Bell, the society’s president and artistic director.

“We take time to just say thank you to our ancestors, their contributions, their forfeitures, their trials and tribulations,” Bell said. “We invite people to Richmond’s African burial ground so that we can go there and pay homage from a perspective of African spirituality.”

Juneteenth should not be used as another holiday to look for bargains in stores, Bell said. It should be a time for reflection about liberty, as well as for celebration and family strengthening.

“It’s a time for optimism and joy,” Bell said.

The Elegba Folklore Society broadcasted its Juneteenth event online this year due to the coronavirus. Although there were still around 7,000 views, Bell said that it is usually much larger and has international influence.

Cries for police reform and social justice continue to increase, Bell said. More attention is being drawn to the racial disparities across America. With this, people have been changing their priorities concerning issues such as discrimination.

“This was a step towards equity,” Bell said about the bill. “A symbolic step, but a step nonetheless.”

State workers will be off during Juneteenth. If the job requires individuals to come in to work, then they will be compensated with overtime or extra pay, said Sen. Jennifer McClellan, D-Richmond, a patron for the bill.

The General Assembly wrapped up the agenda last week for the special session that began Aug. 18. Northam called the session to update the state budget and to address criminal and social justice reform and issues related to COVID-19.

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The Capital News Service is a flagship program of VCU’s Richard T. Robertson School of Media and Culture. In the program, journalism students cover news in Richmond and across Virginia and distribute their stories, photos, and other content to more than 100 newspapers, television and radio stations, and news websites.

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Downtown

Island Shrimp Co. opening in former Conch Republic space at Rocketts Landing next March

A second location of the HOUSEpitality Family concept is set to open this spring.

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Local restaurant group HOUSEpitality Family announced that it will open its second Island Shrimp Co. location at Rocketts Landing in March 2022.

The restaurant will be located next to The Boathouse at Rocketts Landing in the space that was formerly occupied by Conch Republic. The first Island Shrimp Co., also known as ISCo, location opened in 2019 at Chesterfield Towne Center. The new location will offer the flavors of the tropics for a city-inspired port-to-plate experience in an artistic seaside environment.

“We’re looking forward to adding another HOUSEpitality Family concept at Rocketts Landing, an area that has been special to us since we opened The Boathouse at Rocketts Landing in 2009,” said Kevin Healy, owner of HOUSEpitality Family restaurant group. “At the time, The Boathouse was the first restaurant to utilize the riverfront location along the James and our whole team is excited that the second location of Island Shrimp Co. will be right on the water.”

Menu items will include favorites like garlic shrimp, lumpia and lobster and shrimp fried rice and the drink menu will feature beach-inspired cocktails like the hurricane, painkiller, mojito and the ISCO-original Blue Typhoon.

Island Shrimp Co. at Rocketts Landing will offer an ambiance that marries city and seaside. Like the original Island Shrimp Co., HOUSEpitality Family considered the full dining experience and will incorporate several Instagram-ready photo opportunities when developing the space.

Island Shrimp Co. is currently hiring for a number of positions, including lead cooks, line cooks, servers, bartenders, hosts, dishwashers and support staff. Those interested in applying for a position at the new Island Shrimp Co. can visit www.growwiththefam.com.

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Mending Walls Artwork Stolen

Stealing this art makes no sense and just seems to be a hurtful act.

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Spotted on the Mending Walls Facebook.

Mending Walls has been about bringing people together through creative means. It is baffling that someone would try to silence this conversation.

Our purpose is to inspire empathy and connection. We were very excited to invite you all to see the final display created by the wonderful local artist who we’ve been highlighting over the last couple of weeks in collaboration with St. Paul’s Episcopal Church (Richmond, VA)

The art was installed on November 17th and by the morning of the 18th artwork work was missing without a trace.

Events like this assures us that our work and purpose is causing change.

“If your voice had no power, they would not try to silence you.”

Mending Walls is a public art project that brings together public artists from different cultures and backgrounds to create murals that address where we are now in society and how we can move forward through understanding and collaboration. They’re responsible for many of the iconic murals you see in town.

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What’s Going Down in Downtown for the Holidays

This extensive list was provided by Venture Richmond. The fun starts this weekend with the biggie RVA Illuminates on Friday, December 3, 5:45PM at Kanawha Plaza,

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Venture Richmond has compiled a list of activities to plan your holidays Downtown with family and friends, so be sure to check our website for updates throughout November and December.

Craft + Design 2021 

Friday-Sunday, November 19-21 at Main Street Station, 1500 E. Main St.

Now in its 57th year, Craft + Design is a museum-quality show that has garnered a reputation for showcasing the finest in contemporary craft. Shoppers spend the weekend browsing the work of artists from all over the country. Awards are presented in ceramics, precious metals, glass, wood and recycled materials, contemporary design, innovative use of traditional craft materials and fiber. Fee for tickets. https://www.visarts.org/events/craft-design-show/

 

Shop Small Saturday

Saturday, November 27, 11AM-6PM, in Downtown RVA

Visit Downtown RVA and support the local shops and small businesses like Little Nomad, Verdalina, Someday, Maven Made, Shockoe Bottom Clay and more for Shop Small Saturday, a nationally celebrated shopping holiday that highlights local and small business owners! To read more about shopping downtown, visit https://venturerichmond.com/explore-downtown/shopping/

 

Richmond Symphony presents Let It Snow!

Saturday, November 27, 8PM at Dominion Energy Center, 600 E. Grace St.

It’s Richmond’s favorite holiday musical tradition – now on Thanksgiving weekend! Celebrate the season with family, friends and the Richmond Symphony at the Carpenter Theatre. Carols, classics and sparkling holiday favorites – even a visit from Santa! Conducted by Chia-Hsuan. Fee for tickets.

https://www.dominionenergycenter.com/events/detail/richmond-symphony-pops

RVA Illuminates

Friday, December 3, 5:45PM at Kanawha Plaza, 801 E. Canal St.

A time-honored Richmond tradition will continue in 2021! See RVA shine when the switch is flipped ON to light up downtown’s skyline for the 2021 holiday season at 6:00pm. RVA Illuminates is back in-person this year with ABC8 News airing live complete coverage of performances, uplifting stories, and the official lighting. Be sure to join in the festive fun by lighting up your own storefronts and homes too! This event is coordinated by the City of Richmond Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities. Free event.

 

Christmas Under the Clocktower

Friday, December 3, 7PM at Main Street Station, 1500 E. Main St.

The second annual event where local nonprofits show off their creativity by designing Christmas trees! Vote for your favorite in-person or online December 3-December 19. Free event.

https://www.facebook.com/events/206490788290894

 

RVA First Friday

Friday, December 3, 5-11PM in downtown’s Arts District along Broad Street

Show Broad Street some love and holiday spirit when you explore galleries, shops, restaurants, nonprofits and more on the first Friday of every month at RVA First Friday along and around Broad Street. Free to attend, fees for shopping. https://www.facebook.com/events/223796113036927

 

Christmas Eve with C.S. Lewis

December 3-12 at Dominion Energy Center, 600 E. Grace St.

In this festive production, viewers find C.S. Lewis at his home near Oxford on Christmas Eve hosting a group of Americans who are Christmassing in England. They are about to experience an unforgettable assortment of Yuletide recollections which stimulates a whole range of emotions – curiosity, laughter, gladness and even some tears. Above all, they will discover how an encounter with JRR Tolkien forever changed Lewis’s Christmas celebrations. Fee for tickets.

https://www.dominionenergycenter.com/events/detail/christmas-eve-with-cs-lewis

 

Dominion Energy Christmas Parade

Saturday, December 4, starts at the Science Museum of Virginia at 10:15AM, travels eastbound on Broad St., ends at 7th and Marshall Sts. downtown

Welcome back the Dominion Energy Christmas Parade for its 38th annual parade celebration featuring colorful floats, giant helium balloons, high school and college marching bands, princesses, superheroes and returning favorites including the trademark Wells Fargo stagecoach, the VCU Peppas and Legendary Santa! The parade also airs LIVE on WTVR CBS6. Free event. Rain or shine.

https://www.richmondparade.org/

 

Richmond Symphony presents A Baroque Holiday

Saturday, December 4, 7:30PM at the Dominion Energy Center, 600 E. Grace St.

The greatest story ever told. The most majestic music ever conceived. Be there for the greatest moments from Handel’s Messiah with the Richmond Symphony, Richmond Symphony Chorus, and soloists. Plus, other Baroque classics to brighten your holiday musical celebration. Fee for tickets. 

https://www.dominionenergycenter.com/events/detail/a-baroque-holiday-1

 

Richmond Makers Market: Holiday Cheers

Sunday, December 5, 12-6PM at Basic City Beer Co., 212 W. 6th St.

This Makers Market features new makers monthly ranging from candlemakers and crafters to confections and works of clay. Head to Manchester’s Basic City Beer Co., a dog-friendly brewery, for an afternoon of shopping and supporting local RVA makers. 

https://www.facebook.com/events/1068760510561265

 

Movies on Brown’s Island: Elf

Saturday, December 11, 5:30PM on Brown’s Island, 500 Tredegar St.

Movies on Brown’s Island, presented by Dominion Energy, is an outdoor family activity, brought to you by Venture Richmond Events. Pack your chair or blanket, bring a picnic dinner, then find your perfect spot on Brown’s Island and enjoy an evening featuring Elf while taking in the stunning views of the James River and Downtown’s holiday skyline.  

Seating is first come, first served. Bringing blankets and/or chairs for comfort is recommended. No seating will be provided. Vendors for the event include Strawberry Street Events and Espresso-A-Go-Go. No pets are allowed on premises during the movies. Parking is available at the Belle Isle parking lot and on-street parking is available along 2nd and 5th Streets. Gates open at 5PM; Show starts at 5:45PM. Tickets are $5 per person (ages 5 and under no ticket needed) and can be purchased in advance online or at the gate. https://venturerichmond.com/our-events/movies-on-browns-island/

 

Richmond Boat Parade of Lights

Saturday, December 11, 5:30PM along downtown’s riverfront, best views from Libby Hill Park in Church Hill and at Rocketts Landing

Each year, boaters decorate their boats and converge on the James River for a parade that marks the beginning of the holiday season. Grab the family and gather at one of the several viewing sites to see the boats and enjoy holiday entertainment. Free event. 

https://www.facebook.com/events/174697928104850

 

Richmond Night Market

Saturday, December 11, 5-9PM at 17th Street Market, 100 N. 17th St.

Richmond Night Market is a monthly, open-air night market held at the 17th Street Market and features a family-friendly experience filled with music, programming, and independent artists and vendors. Shop the local artists and support the Shockoe Bottom restaurants too. Entertainment and programming include live music and cultured and diverse activities for all ages! Free to attend, fees for vendors. https://www.richmondnightmarketva.com/

 

Richmond Ballet’s The Nutcracker

December 11-23 at the Dominion Energy Center, 600 E. Grace St.

The Nutcracker makes its triumphant return this 2021 holiday season! Accompanied by the Richmond Symphony, Clara and her adoring Nutcracker, the glittering butterfly and dancing Russian bear will once again charm audience members of all ages. This is the final opportunity to see this version of our beloved production before it’s reimagined for 2022. Fee for tickets.

https://richmondballet.com/event/the-nutcracker/2021-12-11/

 

Winter Wander: Celebrate Court End

Sunday, December 12, noon-4PM at The Valentine, 1015 E. Clay St.

Save the date and join The Valentine for some winter cheer on their picturesque block of East Clay Street! There will be hot beverages, family crafts and games, and live music. You can also take a self-guided tour of the historic Court End neighborhood and hop on a shuttle to visit nearby cultural sites for open houses and other activities. Free event.

https://thevalentine.org/event/winter-wander-celebrate-court-end/

A Black Christmas in Jackson Ward

Saturday, December 18, noon-7PM at 10 E. Leigh Street

Join RVA Black Farmer’s Market and The Exclusive Blacklist as they present a merry time celebrating the holiday season with a vendor market, food vendors and live music happening in the heart of the Jackson Ward neighborhood. Free to attend, fee for vendors. 

 

Continued updates and potential schedule changes can be found on Venture Richmond’s website: 

https://venturerichmond.com/news/downtown-rva-2021-holiday-calendar/

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